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Yosemite Big Wall Climbing Access Will Change in 2023; Make Your Voice Heard

yosemite climbing permitsYosemite climbers will soon face new regulations on Half Dome and elsewhere; (photo/Michael Carni via Shutterstock)
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In 2023, the National Park Service will issue a ‘long-term solution’ to manage the ever-growing crowds on Yosemite’s cliffs. A lengthy discussion process between highly invested stakeholders looms.

Yet another new permit system is on its way to the international hub of rock climbing. On August 26, the National Park Service (NPS) announced it would soon transition from its current Wilderness Climbing Permit Pilot Program in Yosemite National Park to a “long-term solution” on social media.


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From the sound of things, the NPS will seek to implement stricter regulations than climbers face in the park now. The agency will accept written comments through November 13, and you can also make your voice heard in multiple virtual meetings.

Current Plan Results in ‘Unacceptable Impacts’

The park introduced the current management program in 2021. It altered conditions for Yosemite climbers by making them secure permits for overnight climbing on formations like El Capitan and Half Dome for the first time.

But the program was somewhat soft; it made unlimited free permits available. The intended result, the NPS stated, was to better educate climbers on Leave No Trace ethics and park regulations. It also sought to give its rangers a clearer idea of usage patterns.

In Friday’s Instagram post, the NPS said the changes fell short of accomplishing the latter.

“Despite extensive efforts by Yosemite climbing rangers and climbing stewards to improve education and outreach to climbers, increase patrols, and coordinate targeted clean-ups, there are still unacceptable impacts to the Wilderness character of Yosemite climbing areas,” it said.

The agency qualified that assessment by stating, “[c]umulative effects of big wall climbing have led to degradation of wilderness values. Issues include proliferation of litter, human waste, abandoned property, improperly stored food, illegal fire rings and wind breaks, and preventable accidents.”

Speak Up at Yosemite Climbing Plan Meetings

Now, discussions on how to move forward will begin.

The first opportunity to engage will take place on September 7 as a virtual “town hall” meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. PDT. To attend the meeting, go to Yosemite’s climbing stewardship page and follow the “Virtual Town Hall” link.

yosemite climbing permits meetings

The schedule includes both live events and virtual talks. An “informal outreach” session concludes the four-event slate at the Bishop High-Ball Craggin’ Classic on November 12.

Yosemite valley

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